Thursday, January 29, 2009

Extensions, Envelopes & Electricity

The deadline to file a PA Inheritance Tax Return for a Resident Decedent 

(PDF) is nine months after the date of death. What if a PIT Return cannot be filed by that deadline?

Answer: Request an extension to file.

In accordance with Section 2136 (d) of the Inheritance and Estate Tax Act of 1995, the time for filing the return is extended for an additional period of six months. That Section provides:

The returns required by subsection (a) shall be filed within nine months after the death of the decedent.

At any time prior to the expiration of the nine-month period, the department, in its discretion, may grant an extension of the time for filing a return for an additional period of six months.
Grant of an extension by the Department is routinely issued upon timely request, which will avoid the imposition of a penalty for failure to file a return by its deadline.

However, grant of an extension does not prevent interest from accruing on any tax remaining unpaid after the original deadline.

But, if you still cannot meet that extended deadline, then the return must enter a delinquent status with the Department:
Because Section 2136 (d) of the 1995 Act allows for only one extra period of six (6) months, no additional extension(s) will be granted that would exceed the maximum time permitted.
In the past, a request for extension was initiated by a signed letter sent to the PA Department of Revenue, Inheritance Tax Division, prior to the filing deadline. There was no standard form for use.

There still is no standard request form. But there is a new method for requesting such an extension.

Recently, Jack Meck, Esq., of Pittsburgh, PA, State Chair of the Pennsylvania Fellows of the American College of Trust & Estate Counsel, made available portions of a letter that he recently received from the PA DOR in response to one of his requests for extension.

A Supervisor for the Division's Document Processing Unit revealed a new method for requesting an extension to file a PIT Return:

We now offer you the option to request your extension request via e-mail.

Please use the following e-mail address:
The letter requesting an extension may now become an email message, or an attachment to an email message.

The necessary information (decedent's name, Department file number, date of death, personal representative's name & contact data or counsel's name & contact data, and filing deadline), the reason for extension, and the request for extension should be set forth, just as before.

However, now
it can be sent by electricity, not in an envelope.

That can save some time. But don't use that as an excuse for approaching a deadline even closer.

Update: 2012-07-02:

In requesting such an extension today, I noted a Q&A on this topic posted by the PA Department of Revenue (most recently updated on June 22, 2012), entitled What form do I file to get an extension of time for filing an inheritance tax return?.

The Department responded to the inquiry as follows: 
All that is needed is a letter to the Inheritance Tax Division prior to the due date of the return, identifying the decedent's name, date of death, and county file number and providing a brief explanation of the reason for the request.
The Q&A does not mention the email address previously identified (which I used today, along with a simultaneous fax to the number listed below).  The answer recommends delivery of the request letter by postal mail or by fax, as follows:
Department Of Revenue
Bureau of Individual Taxes
Inheritance Tax Division
P.O. Box 280601
Harrisburg PA 17128-0601
Fax number: 717-772-0412